Daylight Savings Time took place on March 10th this year, but I don’t think the extra hour of daylight fooled anyone (in Canada, at least) into thinking that spring had arrived. But these days, the magnolias look ready to burst, cats are snoozing on the street furniture, and trees and teenagers alike proudly sport their new fuzz.
Not unlike apple season in the fall, I wait for rhubarb season in the spring with an enthusiasm that might be called ‘extreme.’ From now until June, I’ll be slapping this lanky pink gem into pies, crumbles, muffins — you name it. I’m a woman possessed. Last summer, when I was staying with friends in Cambridge, I would try to take home as much rhubarb as possible from the market — usually leading to a backpack stuffed tight with the pink petioles, and to teasing from several of the vendors. As my roommates can attest, even when I’m supposed to be out raspberry picking, I come home with several times more rhubarb than berries. It is not uncommon for me to be unable to purchase any other groceries from the market because I have tried to buy all the rhubarb. You guys. All of it.
In any case, one of my favourite ways to eat rhubarb is also the simplest: compote. In my family, we’ve always eaten the compote on its own for dessert, but I love to spoon it over my yoghurt in the morning, or onto crumbled meringues and whipped cream for a heavenly dessert. Have I mentioned that I also love it on cake, oatmeal, and straight out of the jar? Since you could make this about a hundred ways, I’m including a few variations for you to play around with.
Spring forward: rhubarb compote
Note: for all of the recipes, I like my rhubarb quite tart, but (as my family repeatedly reminds me) I’m likely in the minority here. Feel free to add more of any of the sweeteners to your taste.
No matter what, you’ll need:
- 2 lbs rhubarb (about 12 large stalks, or 6 cups), chopped
If you’re feeling dainty:
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/4 cup early grey tea (you can thank Food in Jars for this genius addition)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
If you’re feeling peppy:
- 1/2 cup – 3/4 cup white sugar
- 1 one-inch thumb of ginger, peeled and thinly grated
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup water
If you’re still feeling a little wintery:
- 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup dark maple syrup
- zest and juice of 1 orange
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/4 cup orange juice
1. In a large saucepan on low high heat, dump in the rhubarb with the ingredient group of your choice. Stir together, and allow to warm for about 10 minutes, until the rhubarb starts to release some of its juice.
2. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. The rhubarb should now be softened and separated, with a few whole pieces remaining. Remove from heat and allow to cool before serving.
Hypothetically, this keeps in an airtight container the fridge for about a week, but I’ve never had it last that long.
Going on a wee bit of a trip this weekend, so you won’t hear from me until next week.
Spring forward everyone!